Throughout my years in the Wedgwood Baptist Church youth group, The Wedg, I had the priviledge of participating in several mission trips.
My first year, as a seventh grader, we went to the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. That was an incredible week of street concerts during the day and various church concerts in the evening. (This was also my first exposure to youth group fun at Wal-Mart.) My favorite and most lasting lesson from this trip came from a homeless man named Eric. Every day, for every concert, he was there. And everyday he would always tell us Sing for Jesus! Sing for Jesus!
My second year, as an 8th grader, we went on choir tour/mission trip to Illinois. During the day we worked in the First Baptist Church's VBS (where I worked with a deaf woman and got to practice my sign language). In the evenings, we traveled to other towns to do concerts. We even did a concert at Watson Baptist Church in Watson county. The most memorable part of this was a night devotional done by our youth minister, Steve Hayes. I still remember his haunting question- which cross do you serve? The nice white religious cross with small nails and no splinters, or the huge, bloody cross with the crown of thorns, the railroad spikes and the ruff wood? I find myself at times asking myself this question
As a 9th grader, I was old enough to participate in an Acteen's Trip to Kentucky for the National Acteens Convention. This was the first place I felt on "official" call from God to missions and announced that to my acteens group and to my church. Then, we went on our final trip with muisc minister Sam Jones to Alaska. That was AWESOME! My favorite concert was in Nenna, Alaska when a deaf man came without an interpreter, and I interpreted many of the songs just for him. I know God is watching out for my friend, Sonny.
After such a large summer of youth trips, we took a trip to Del Rio, Texas in July of 1999. We did backyard Bible clubs during the day and travled around doing various concerts in the evening. There, we had to travel 2 hours to the nearest Wal-Mart, but it was well worth the trip. My group had one little girl come to our Backyard Bible club. Her name was AnaRosa, and at the end of the week, she accpted Jesus into her heart. We were also able to meet her mother and some of her neighbors and give them Bibles in Spanish before we left. Lastly, at one of our devotionals, God's spirit really fell and we all gathered to pray for revival to come to our church and community. I prayed with Justin Stegner, briefly, and he prayed that whatever it took, God we need revival. (Steggy was later killed on Spetember 15 at Wedgwood.) As a result of what we prayed and continued to pray, revival did come, and Steggy was a large part of the whatever it took to make it happen part.
My junior year we went to Ohio and did VBS during the day and concerts in the evening. This was the year I focused on becoming closer to the younger girls in the youth group. A group also did canvassing for a start up church, Daybreak Church. Overall, an uneventful trip with few things worth mentioning now, but there was a slow, steady spiritual growth that came during this trip. Every year, there is the one night that absolutely rocks as God meets with us and we begin making all kinds of promises to God that we never keep. However, this year, because of the lack of a spiritual high, the commitments were real. It may or may not be politically correct to say his name, but the glory is God's to begin and end with. Cole Baliff made a real change in his life, and became a true man of God. He really helped bring the gospel and revival to our high school, Southwest, more than anyone else ever could, and it started on mission trip to Ohio.
My senior mission trip was spent in beautiful Colorado with our new music minister John-Frank Reeves, who made the trip an incredible amount of fun. Unfortunately, Wal-Mart was not such a blast that year, but that's okay. All is forgiven. In Colorado, we did several concerts and other missions projects. My favorite thing about Colorado was the theme, Can't Stop Talking About Jesus! We had great music and the awesome dramas by YCMT.